Welcome to a weekly feature on the Eye of the Flyer blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.
UPDATE: See the 2019+ NEW boarding order HERE! <-LINK
I thought this week it would be a fun idea to translate the official Delta wording + zones into more understandable and realistic verbiage for the normal flyer to better grasp just what will happen when you board a Delta jet.
First off Delta does not use groups like other airlines do. They do call some of them zones but this really is a bit misleading as you can see by the time you get to “zone 1” you really are up to the FOURTH group of folks who will board the jet. Let’s look at these one by one with me expanding on Delta’s official wording:
- Pre-Boarding a.k.a. Group 1. Old folks, those with a limp (real limp, or not), parents with lots of kids who need time even if half of the kids are teens. Thankfully social shaming does tend to stop “most” from abusing this boarding group but just know just about anyone can board with this group. If you are challenged by the gate agent and tell them you need more time they are not going to stop you.
- Premium Zone a.k.a. Group 2. If you see PREM on your boarding pass you (and those with you) get to find lots of open overhead space and can settle in and start to relax. If you happen to be a Diamond Medallion you know you get to board now unless you got an evil E BASIC fare and are not smart enough to have a Delta AMEX card (learn more) #TIP
- Sky Zone a.k.a. Group 3. Welcome just about everyone at the gate area who is an elite or has upgraded to C+ or who purchased a C+ seat. Even if your boarding pass says SKY it will take a while to board but at least you have a decent shot at getting your bag over your seat and can enjoy bumping everyone in the aisle with your bags who were in the first two groups of folks!
- Zone 1 a.k.a. Group 4. Ya know 1 sounds like first but then again Delta 1st class is not 1st class so this is just one more way Delta plays with words. If you are anyone remotely connected with Delta you are boarding now after most of the folks on the jet are already onboard (if you’re at a Delta hub city). You still have a shot at overhead space but may have to go back a few rows to find an open spot (but at least you get one).
- Zone 2 a.k.a. Group 5. Did I mention the gate agent will check your bag to your final destination for free before you get to board? No really, they will – and will force you to. The chance your bag will fly inside the cabin is remote unless it can fit where your feet would like to go. Sorry, next time you fly at least get a Delta AMEX card (learn more) to board with Zone 1 😉
- Zone 3 a.k.a. Group 6. I hope you have a backpack and a small one at that. I bet you are in a middle seat aren’t you. By now 1st class should be done with drinks and you can enjoy a very long wait in the jet bridge that will be insanely hot during summer and cold in winter. Enjoy?
- Zone 4 a.k.a. Group 7. This one is not listed because it is not for “real” passengers. If your gate pass says NRSA it is very possible you will still be standing around with an expectant look on your face hoping the GA has a real boarding pass for you. At least you are smart enough to have a small carry-on or are ready to have your bag checked or are ready to beg for the coat closet for your bag.
This is the reality of Delta boarding zones if you have yet to experience it. How do I know this? I have been in them all as I tend to, when needed, join #TeamBoardLast as when there is a seat that is not filled in 1st class and I am the last elite standing I get the seat (most times) vs the elites that have boarded (despite the new rules that say they can go on-board).
What do you think of Delta zone boarding? – René
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